If the tussle over a title and a hyphen is any indicator, Texas’s forthcoming Mexican American studies course will be contentious on immigration policy.
With Hispanics constituting 53 percent of the state’s K-12 population — projected to top 60 percent by the end of the decade, thanks to continued legal and illegal migration from Mexico and the new arrivals’ high birth rates — Texas is developing the nation’s first free-standing Mexican American curriculum.
“We need a curriculum that reflects that student population,” says Christopher Carmona, an assistant professor at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and a leader in developing the course.
For months, everyone was stuck on the title page.
The State Board of Education initially labeled it “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent.” That was unacceptable to Latino activists, who wanted MAS — “Mexican-American Studies.” In a compromise — “Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies” — the hyphen was dropped because some board members thought it was un-American.
The course syllabus remains a work in progress. But if past is prologue, the massively funded ethnic identity lobbies will promote a revisionist history of the American Southwest.
Surveying the rough-and-tumble Texas of the 1800s, online lesson plans available at MAS TX Education highlight alleged depredations inflicted by American settlers: “Mexican Americans were pushed into violent actions as a last resort as they became victims of discriminatory and hence oppressive Anglo society. As a minority in his own homeland, the Mexican American became fair game.”
Regardless of the historical accuracy of those claims, the intent of the authors is to call into question the legitimacy of borders today and establish an implied right of people to cross it. According to MAS TX Education, the border is “imaginary.” To wit:
“In 1924, the [U.S.] Border Patrol was established and now that imaginary line called the border became a real barrier for people going back and forth between Mexico and the United States. The need for documentation suddenly became a bothersome reality.”
Such pedagogy carries a strong whiff of revanchism (translated: reconquista), as well as rationalizations for flouting U.S. sovereignty. All this comes as a beleaguered U.S. Border Patrol is the most assaulted law-enforcement agency in America (another fact missing from the MAS talking points).
Of course the teaching of history isn’t really the objective of the identity politics industry. Without question, American history should be taught accurately – warts and all. Among the many important historical realities that would argue against the advocates’ assertion that the border is “imaginary” is the fact that Texas’s history as part of Mexico was remarkably brief.
Like the rest of Mexico, Texas was a Spanish colony up until 1821. Texas remained part of an independent Mexico for just 15 years, opting for its own independence in 1836 (a status it maintained for just nine years before becoming a U.S. state). At the time of Mexican independence in 1821, a mere 3,500 people lived in what is now Texas. Thus, the inferred assertion that Mexicans entering Texas are really just returning to a place their ancestors once possessed is far more imaginary than the internationally recognized line that separates the State of Texas from the Republic of Mexico.